Meet the Guy Making Costco Runs for his Entire Town

Lifestyle | By Caleb Schwartz | May 28, 2020

Remember how simple going to the grocery store used to be? Even if all you wanted was a candy bar, it was no problem to stroll right in, buy it, and be done. That's not true anymore with the coronavirus still in full force. Simple trips to the grocery store can feel like Mad Max.

You have to wear a mask, social distance from other shoppers, and fear the possibility of contracting covid just because you ran out of cereal. Not to mention the fact that the stores are crowded or sold out of good. It can be enough to make you want to avoid it altogether.

Even two months into the pandemic, we haven't quite adapted to this new way of shopping. If you're lucky enough to live in a small town, it may not be a problem, but if your town is too small, that may pose a problem in itself. Take the town of Gustavus, Alaska which only has one grocery store.

Gustavus, Alaska - Population: 450

In the town of Gustavus, Alaska, life is a little different. They only have a population of around 450 people, and the only way you could possibly get there is by boat or plane. With such a low population, there isn't a need for tons of stores. That's why Toshua Parker is the owner of the only grocery store in town called ToshCo Icy Strait Wholesale.

Their town is 100% dependent on a state-run ferry that brings in supplies to the store. That is how the entire town gets their supplies, but due to the coronavirus (as well as budget cuts), the ferry has stopped. This hasn't stopped Toshua Parker from making sure his customers get their supplies. Since March he's been taking day long boat trips to Juneau to pick up supplies from Costco.

A 24 Hour Trip

Toshua Parker explained some of the issues with the ferry that has stopped running: "It's kind of a combination of state issues with the ferry system, and coronavirus on top of it. That kind of made it to where we've been having to do these runs, and basically just run to (Juneau) and get all the groceries for (Gustavus)." Toshua Parker and his wife Cassia had somewhat prepared for this when they purchased a boat last year just in case the ferry ever stopped working. As it turns out, that was a great idea.

It's no easy trip. The boat can only sail in high tide, so it takes meticulous planning where the boat can only leave every 12 hours. The trip to Juneau takes seven hours where Parker will load his boat with 30,000 tons of supplies. Then it takes seven hours to get back to Gustavus where they have to wait for high tide to dock.

Toshua is Careful Not to Bring Covid Into his Town

It's definitely not a convenient journey, as Toshua explains,"We have to get here at just the right time to come up the river again. We can't quite make it to Juneau and come back in time for the next tide, so we usually end up having to stay the night either tied to the dock in Juneau or sometimes anchored out here in front of Gustavus waiting for high tide again."

Toshua is worried about bringing the virus into Gustavus since they have had no known cases while Juneau has had 30 documented cases. "Our crew is super careful. We've gone to a lot of measures to make sure it doesn't happen. For example, when we get to Juneau, myself and the crew stay on the boat, and we have guys in Juneau that we've hired that around and pick everything up get it ready, and then bring it out to the boat and they drop that stuff off and they leave, and our guys load the boat. We kind of keep some separation."



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